steeplecats add to roster

When the North Adams SteepleCats return to Joe Wolfe Field next summer, they will be able to accommodate players from military academies. The NECBL’s executive board approved a plan to give each team the ability to sign two players from an academy, in addition to the 33 players on their rosters

When Brandon Golinski arrives in North Adams this coming summer to play with the NECBL’s SteepleCats, he will not count against the club’s roster limits.

That’s because the NECBL will provide roster exemptions to players from the five federal service academies.

That list includes baseball players from the three Division I academies: the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy, along with the Division III Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy.

“Students at these military academies have a very demanding schedule that includes military commitments during the summer months, which makes it more challenging for them to find a place to play during the summer,” NECBL commissioner Sean McGrath said in a statement. “Our decision to incorporate these military waivers provides our teams flexibility in managing their rosters in order to accommodate these military obligations.”

Currently, there are four players from Army West Point on three different NECBL rosters. Along with North Adams’ Golinski, who will play his freshman season this spring, right-handed pitcher Ben DeLaubell and catcher Cam Cerutto will be playing for the Danbury Westerners, while left-handed pitcher Sean Dennehy is scheduled to be playing for the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.

The NECBL’s executive board approved a proposal to designate openings on the roster of every team for two players from any of the five aforementioned service academies. The decision will start in 2021, and continue going forward. The exemption permits every team in the NECBL to work with the academies to provide roster slots to their players in order to work around their respective military options.

The NECBL teams will have 33-player rosters in 2021, so these exemptions can be very helpful.

Army West Point head coach Jim Foster is very familiar with the NECBL, as he spent nine seasons as the head coach at Rhode Island and two years as the associate head coach at Boston College. Foster’s teams have sent numerous players to the NECBL

“They will now get the same opportunities and experiences as others because of the roster flexibility now afforded to them thanks to this new rule,” Foster said in a release. “Our hope is other leagues around the country will do the same, and allow players from service academies — who do so much for all of us — to play and not count towards roster number limitations.”

After not playing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SteepleCats, and the rest of the NECBL, are scheduled to return to their respective diamonds in 2021.

Howard Herman can be reached at  hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253. On Twitter: @howardherman

Sportswriter-Columnist

Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.